Updated: Feb 12
Is there anything better in this world than a freshly baked loaf of organic white sourdough bread? Ready to be slathered in salty butter and devoured? We love a loaf of Sourdough in our house, and as we were spending an absolute fortune on it so we decided to give making our own a try. It takes a bit of effort but it is such a joy to sink your teeth into a freshly made loaf that you have painstakingly made with your own 2 hands. One thing you will need before you start is a good starter, you can make one yourself but its best to get some from an established starter that someone else already has. If any of our fans are local to Catford and don't know anybody with a starter, I am more than happy to share some of mine, just get in touch. Making this loaf is a 24 hour process, I usually start on a Thursday night, get kneading on Friday morning and let it rise over the course of Friday to be baked Friday night. Planning like this ensures we always have a delicious loaf for the weekend.
250g Sourdough Starter
350g Organic Strong White Bread Flour (plus extra)
Semolina for dusting
180ml Tepid Water
Prep Time: 24 Hours
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Serves: Makes 1 Loaf
Get started the night before baking, place 50g of sourdough starter in a bowl and add 100g of organic strong white bread flour and 120ml water. Mix well with a whisk and cover the bowl with a tea towel. Leave out overnight to get the mix going. It should be the consistency of porridge
In the morning, take the sourdough starter and add 350g organic strong white bread flour, 180ml lukewarm water and the salt
Mix and knead vigorously for around 10 minutes, until you have a smooth elastic dough. You will need to add a little more flour until the dough is not sticky. Add a handful of flour at a time while kneading until the dough is no longer sticking to the surface and your hands. It should be as moist and malleable as possible while not being sticky.
Lightly oil a bowl and place the ball of dough in it. Moisten a tea towel and place over the dough to stop it drying out. Leave it in a warm place and let the dough rise until it has roughly doubled in size, this takes about 4 hours in my house but may vary depending on conditions in your home.
When doubled in size, tip out the dough on to a clean surface and get all the air out of it by knocking it back with your knuckles (see picture) If it hasn't doubled in size after 5 hours don't despair, sometimes it doesn't for me and I go to the next step anyway
When the air is out of it fold the dough in on itself several times to improve the structure of the loaf. Knead again for a couple of minutes and then it is ready for the second rise. Shape it with your hands and tuck the bottom under with your hands in cup shapes
Lightly dust the inside of the banneton with a 50:50 semolina and flour mix and place the loaf inside it, good side down. Place the banneton inside a plastic bag and leave rise until at least doubled in size, mine usually triples in size before I'm ready to bake. It is ready when you push your finger in lightly and the dough springs back out, this second rise takes 5 – 6 hours in my house but again it will vary based on conditions in your home. If you don’t have a banneton you can do this in a bowl, but you will get much better results with a banneton
When ready heat your oven to 200c on the fan setting, place a baking tray at the bottom of the oven and pour in 2 kettles full of boiling water. The steam will give your loaf a nice sheen and crust.
Lightly dust another baking tray with a 50:50 semolina and flour mix and tip the loaf gently onto the tray, being gentle to hold its shape.
Score the loaf with a very sharp knife from one side to the other, about an inch deep. This is important to give the loaf a direction to rise and stop it bursting out the side
Bake for 30 minutes at 200c, then turn the heat down to 180c and cook for another 15 minutes, 45 minutes in total.
When done turn the loaf over and tap it on the bottom. It should have a slightly hollow sound when it is done. If it does not have the hollow sound put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes, repeat if necessary
When done place on a wire rack until it has cooled down
Enjoy your delicious sourdough loaf, preferably with lots of salty butter!
Note on feeding your sourdough starter
You need to keep your sourdough starter fed to keep it alive and how frequently will depend on where you store it. If you keep it in the fridge, like I do you can get away with feeding it once a week as the colder temperature slows the fermentation down. If you keep it at room temperature you will get a better loaf, but you will need to feed it once a day, maybe even more often if it is particularly active. To feed the starter keep 100g in a bowl and discard the rest. Add 100g flour and 100ml water and give it a good mix with a whisk. Place back in the storage container and repeat a week (or day) later. It should be the consistency of porridge so might need an extra splash of water occasionally when you feed it.